Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

GOP's 'faux anger' is all the rage

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor
May 2, 2012 -- Updated 2214 GMT (0614 HKT)
Thousands celebrate near ground zero after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Thousands celebrate near ground zero after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria Cardona: Some in GOP have criticized Obama's Afghanistan trip this week
  • She says GOP using faux anger, same as earlier criticism of Obama's bin Laden ad
  • She says Romney had said killing bin Laden not a priority; he should own his words now
  • Cardona: GOP hypocritical; would gladly claim credit if its candidate had killed bin Laden

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

(CNN) -- You would think that President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan yesterday and speech to the troops would have quieted -- at least for one night -- the latest installment of the GOP's "Faux Anger Chronicles." While most of the president's critics were silent or praised him for the trip, others didn't disappoint in following along with the fad.

Faux anger: It's all the rage. At least in politics.

The president's speech honored and thanked our troops, reviewed our strength and resolve in Afghanistan and in killing Osama bin Laden -- who planned the 9/11 tragedy in that country -- and also in getting rid of 20 of 30 of al Qaeda's top lieutenants.

It provided a slight break in the action from the GOP temper tantrum that began earlier this week. That one was over the Obama campaign's ad, which had the audacity in using the president's decision to move forward on the raid to bring down Osama bin Laden, no doubt a tremendous accomplishment for the administration and the country. The ad appalled GOP critics because we all know the Republicans would never have "gone there."

Maria Cardona
Maria Cardona

Oh wait, they would and they have. Do we remember 9/11? With President Bush holding the megaphone, standing atop the rubble of ground zero? With caskets draped in the U.S. flag? These were not postcards being sold on the street corners of NYC to commemorate the event that changed our lives forever. These were images of President Bush's 2004 campaign ads. Back then of course, Democrats cried foul, and Republicans stood their ground.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The difference now is that Democrats have taken a page right out of the Republican playbook, using strength on foreign policy to remind people of the courageous decision Obama -- a Democrat --made, ordering the raid on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan (more on that later). The Republicans don't much like being shown up on what has historically been their turf.

As I say to my children whenever they throw a temper tantrum: tough noogies. Deal with it. Those who worked for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and saw their candidate get bloodied by George W. Bush and allies have even harsher words.

If the tables were turned, does anyone think Republicans wouldn't have used this accomplishment? No. Does anyone think that if -- God forbid -- the mission had gone sour, Obama's opponents would not have used it as the No. 1 reason to get him out of office? No.

This is exactly what happened to Jimmy Carter and why it is so bizarre that Mitt Romney actually brought up Carter in his response when asked if he would have ordered the mission to kill bin Laden. We know Jimmy Carter would have, because he did order a difficult mission like this before. Unfortunately, Operation Eagle Claw failed, as did Carter's presidency because of it.

What we don't know is whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the bin Laden raid. According to Mitt Romney in 2008, he actually wouldn't have done so under the exact same circumstances that President Obama said he would and in fact did.

Let's remember that after the George W. Bush administration went into Tora Bora looking for bin Laden and didn't find him, the search took a back seat to going into Iraq and getting Saddam Hussein. Bush actually de-prioritized the search for Osama bin Laden. And this became the line that many Republican candidates would follow in the 2008 campaign.

Before then, in 2007, Mitt Romney had said he would not move heaven and Earth to find Osama bin Laden. He did clarify his statements a couple days later and also in a debate, saying that getting bin Laden was important, but so was focusing on other top tier al Qaeda leaders. But the more damning statement came afterward, when he strongly criticized then-Sen. Obama for saying he would go into Pakistan to get bin Laden without the help of the Pakistanis if he had actionable intelligence to do so. Romney called those statements "ill-timed" and "ill-considered."

Mitt Romney needs to learn that words matter. When he says in no uncertain terms that he would not in fact order a mission in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistanis, and then criticizes his opponent for saying he would, why should we not judge him on exactly those words?

So Mr. Romney, if you would like to now take back those words and concede you were wrong, you should do so. But don't expect the American people to buy into your faux anger when your opponent is questioning how you would have acted when you yourself have provided the words that lead to that legitimate doubt.

Additionally, the Romney campaign and Mr. Romney himself is saying any president would have made the same decision President Obama did. Not true. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he thought it was "gutsy" and one of the most courageous calls he has seen a president make. The intelligence available at the time was 50-50 at best that bin Laden was even in that compound. Vice President Biden said he had advised against it and that in fact the only person in that room that told the president to go was then CIA Director Leon Panetta.

So in the infamous words of the GOP's beloved Newt Gingrich: Spare me the pious baloney. Or at least the faux anger -- even if it is politics' newest fashion craze.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Maria Cardona.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT